By John Hopkins
We seem to have an ongoing obsession regarding whether we are alone or not in the universe. Books, movies, essays and TV shows have been produced with great regularity based on the idea that someone from another planet is looking for us and will eventually find us.
For the most part, we imagine these interplanetary visitors as having a physical resemblance to us, which isn’t surprising. The imagination tends to use as a starting point something with which it is familiar and then modify it somewhat – a bigger head, long fingers, short stature, green skin tone and presto, “Greeting Earthling, take me to your leader.”
But what if, rather than being creatures roughly similar to us in size and form, the first alien invaders are in fact very tiny beings in very tiny flying machines?
I have been preoccupied with occupants of interplanetary craft since the spring, when the snow was melting and there, nestled in the grass and leaves behind one of our sheds, was a small red object. It is still there. It measures about 6 inches by 6 inches, and stands just a few inches off the ground. It has arms extended from each corner, upon which are mounted propellers. There are two clear, plastic canopies on the main body.
It could be a wayward drone belonging to one of our neighbours. But I never saw it flying around before, and if you had lost a drone, wouldn’t you have tried to hunt it down, maybe knocked on a few doors?
So now I’m wondering where it came from. And I’m thinking it may have come from a galaxy far, far away.
Another of the general assumptions that emerge in all those books and movies about space invaders is that the visitors will want to communicate with humans because, after all, we are the smartest species on earth. But as we know, that is open to interpretation, especially if you get a lot of your news from North Korea or Fox. Maybe the invaders have bypassed us and gone straight to the chipmunks for their communication.
I’m sure in his wildest visions Ray Bradbury did not conceive of a scenario in which thousands of small, furry animals are airlifted to another planet while the earth explodes below them, obliterating humanity in the process.
“The tall goofy-looking ones that walk upright?” asks the chipmunk. “They’re fairly harmless but they do cause as lot of pollution and seem to fight a lot.”
“Don’t worry,” replies the alien. “We have a plan to get you and your seed-eating friends out of here. Just act as if everything is normal and we’ll take care of the rest.”
Sure, they look cute and cuddly, but let’s face it, when the future of their species is on the line, those chipmunks can be ruthless.
So, keeping in mind that I can’t be sure whose side the chipmunks are on, for the benefit of humankind I have been doing a little bit of investigation into this landing craft. As mentioned, it has two plastic canopies, which leads me to believe it is a two-seater. Both cockpits have been abandoned, so whoever was on board appears to have survived the landing and set out to explore the area. It’s possible I have already stepped on them, or brought them to a grisly end when mowing the grass. But I can’t take the chance in assuming that. And my instincts tell me that if their planet stopped receiving transmissions from these explorers, they would have sent out a search party. I have been careful to leave the area around their spaceship undisturbed, if only to give them a false sense of security. I can play the spy game, too.
I’m not sure if they’ve attempted to make contact with any of our neighbours – by neighbours I mean the aforementioned chipmunks, rabbits, squirrels or birds. Now that I think of it, Nancy and I have noticed that the chipmunks are acting a little odd around our place this spring. They’ve been digging more than their usual quota of burrows and collecting an inordinate amount of seeds and nuts. What do they know that we don’t?
It promises to be an uneasy summer. What if the UFO leaves? Will that mean the planned invasion is off? Have they returned to their planet to file a report? To get reinforcements?
What if the chipmunks start vanishing? What if other animals or the birds are in on the plot? Who can I trust? My cats?
What if another aircraft lands? What does that mean?
My advice to you is to be prudent, take nothing for granted, and look to the skies.